Sorrow has been a topic of study for me lately. I just finished reading a book on the grace found in biblical lamentation by Vroegop (Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, 2019). The book really opened my eyes to the inevitability and spiritual necessity, really, of lamenting and fully experiencing sorrow. I just wanted to talk about that for a minute.
You can see here I have included the poem “Sorrow”, written and illustrated by an 11-year-old girl named Olivia who lives in New Zealand and happens to be my cousin. Her mom shared this poem with me recently, and I am struck by a couple of things about it. One is that this is written by a child who clearly understands the experience of sorrow, even at a young age. We all experience sorrow. It’s part of being human and part of God’s plan working in our life (that last part is not popular to say). We can expect sorrow. All of us. At every age.
Secondly, I'm struck by the fact that sorrow – grief, loss, whatever you want to call it – is not only an emotional experience. It’s physical. It is experienced by all 5 of the senses. I remember when a dear friend lost her son, she told me that her heart literally, physically hurt, like it was going to crack her chest wide open.
As I see it, sorrow is about loss. Any loss. The loss of a person, a relationship. Loss of a job, income, home, lifestyle. Loss of health, status, reputation. Loss of a dream, of hope. Loss of peace. Loss of joy. All of us can find something to relate to here. Maybe you’re in a time of sorrow right now.
I just wish I could wrap this post up in a nice little package, in some witty, pithy comment, or a shiny, happy bow. Tell you to “just do this” and you’ll feel better in your sorrow. But, I can’t. Because that’s not how it works.
But, here’s what I do have:
Jesus gets it. He gets sorrow. So much so He is often referred to as the “Man of Sorrows”. Isaiah 53:3 says Jesus was:
“familiar with pain” (NIV)
“acquainted with deepest grief” (NLT)
“intimately familiar with suffering” (ISV)
Jesus “knew what sickness was” (CSB)
His life was “filled with sorrow and terrible suffering” (CEV)
Jesus is our partner in sorrow, taking in every sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound that we are. We were never meant to do sorrow alone.
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